Friends of a 16-year-old student accused of stabbing a teacher and two teenagers in a schoolyard attack have said he was bullied and pushed to breaking point when he lashed out.
Bonnyrigg High School, in Sydney’s west, went into lockdown for two hours yesterday after 48-year-old science teacher Carolyn Cox and two Year 11 students suffered back and shoulder wounds in an attack outside a classroom at about 8.45am.
Ms Cox and a 16-year-old boy were taken to Liverpool Hospital for treatment for back and shoulder wounds, while a 15-year-old girl was taken to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead with non-life-threatening injuries.
Shortly after the attack, NSW police picked up a student in a neighbouring shopping-centre carpark and allegedly seized two knives. A sports bag nearby contained a machete, meat cleaver, screwdrivers and other potential weapons, police said.
The boy was taken to Fairfield Police Station, where he was charged with wounding with intent to murder and two counts of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He has been refused bail and will appear in a children’s court today.
A local area superintendent dismissed any link to terrorism, calling the attack “a local issue at a local school”, while classmates of the accused boy said they thought bullying had provoked the outburst.
“He’s not a bad person — if anything, he’s super nice and easy to talk to — but he just got pushed to the limit,” said a fellow classmate, who has known the boy since kindergarten.
“I think that it has been going on for a while, but he hasn’t said anything about it and over time his rage has built up and suddenly burst.” According to the students, the attacker had “history” with the injured students.
Ms Cox, a long-time staff member, was injured as she attempted to stop the attack.
“She tried to stop them by jumping in between the attacker and victim and got caught in the crossfire,” a student said.
The incident, just three days into the school year, shook staff and students, while parents rushed to the school to check their children were safe.
Meanwhile, self-defence teachers across Sydney say they are fielding a steady stream of inquiries from teachers prepared to pay privately to learn skills they say the state Education Department is not providing.
“It’s an ongoing thing, but most of the time it’s teachers who chose to do it on their own because they feel they need to know the warning signs before something like this happens,” said self- defence teacher Larry Friedberg.
The NSW Education Department recorded 502 violent incidents at schools during the first half of last year, affecting students and teachers, including a teacher who suffered a chipped tooth when a student smashed a computer monitor over her head.
Opposition education spokesman Jihad Dibb said teachers were not receiving enough support to ensure they identified early warning signs that children were experiencing troubles.
“There’s always something that’s happening in the background, but teachers aren’t given the resources or the training in the area to give them tools to deal with it,” he said.